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The Mountain View Chocolate Factory has unveiled an online marketplace for third-party applications that hook into its Google Apps suite of web-based businessware.

In February The Wall Street Journal revealed that such an app store was on the way, and on Tuesday evening at a developer event broadcast over the web the web giant cum world power officially announced its Google Apps Marketplace. Director of engineering Vic Gundotra billed it as a way to discover and install applications that "deeply integrate" with Google Apps.

The market has been pre-populated with more than 50 apps, including an online payroll app from Intuit, a free online collaboration app from startup Manymoon, and Skytap, the Jeff Bezos-backed service that lets you mimic IT infrastructure in the so-called cloud. Using OpenID authentication, such apps can share the same sign-in as the Google App suite. Using Google APIs and other Apps suite extensions, they can share data with the suite. And they can be managed from the existing Google Apps control panel.

Gundotra said that the marketplace can be built with a developer's "own platforms," "own tools," and "own infrastructure," though he did give a nod to the possibility of using the company's so-called development cloud, Google App Engine. Later in the event announcing the marketplace - available on YouTube here - Mountain View's David Glazer provided a brief tutorial showing developers how to integrate their apps with the Google Apps suite.

Developers pay Google a one-time $100 fee to list any number of applications in the marketplace, and Google takes a 20 per cent cut of sales. According to Gundotra, Google Apps is now spans two million businesses and 25 million individuals. ®

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